Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA)—the most common form of arthritis in both people and dogs—is a painful, degenerative disease that affects highly movable joints. The weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, elbows and stifles (knees) of dogs, are the most susceptible to this debilitating condition. Dogs suffering from the everyday pain of OA may have difficulty jumping onto your bed, climbing stairs, even getting in and out of the car. Often the signs of osteoarthritis are mistaken for old age.

How can we treat Osteoarthritis

It is important that we approach the treatment of osteoarthritis logically. Simply treating an arthritic dog with pain relieving medication is not advised and we should look at the causes of arthritis and what makes the symptoms worse in an individual dog.

  1. Weight loss - Obesity dramatically increases the pain associated with an arthritic joint. It is therefore essential that we tackle obesity from the outset. This will involve a change in diet and an increase in exercise.
  2. Exercise - This can be difficult in a dog which has joint pain however exercise is important to maintain healthy cartilage. A carefully tailored exercise plan including hydrotherapy will be advised.
  3. Joint health - Healthy joint cartilage is essential to maintain its function. In OA cartilage damage can result in a series of more extensive changes within the joint and a cycle of degeneration can be set in motion. Supplements such as Synoquin ® and Hills J/D ® will be discussed. It is often tempting to buy products for use in humans however this is false economy as they are ineffective in animals.
  4. Nsaid's - This stands for Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs. These are used to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with OA. It is essential that they are used sensibly alongside the above. Monitoring of cases on Naiad's is important as in a small number of cases side effects can develop especially after long term use. The protocol below is used in patients on Naiad's.
  5. Surgery - In a small number of cases surgery may be advised. This may involve ligament replacement, cleaning out of the joint or in severe cases joint fusion.

PROTOCOL FOR LONGTERM NSAID USE

Before treatment is commenced

Blood test for haematology, biochemistry and electrolytes.

Monitoring

Blood test for haematology, biochemistry and electrolytes - EVERY 6 MONTHS.